Van Gogh painting stolen from Dutch museum during pandemic is recovered

AMSTERDAM (Reuters) - A painting by Vincent Van Gogh that was stolen from a small Dutch museum in 2020 during a COVID-19 lockdown has been recovered, the institution which owns the artwork, said on Tuesday.

"We have incredible good news. The painting 'Spring Garden' ... is back with the Groninger Museum three and half years after the theft," the museum said in a statement.

The painting, which dates from 1884, was stolen from the Museum Singer Laren, east of Amsterdam, where it was on loan for an exhibition.

The theft took place during weeks-long lockdowns around the world as the COVID pandemic took hold.

At the time, Dutch police released security footage showing the moment thieves broke into Singer Laren Museum on March 30, smashing glass doors, to steal the painting.

The artwork depicts the garden of the rectory at Nuenen, the small Dutch town where Van Gogh's parents lived.

"The painting has suffered but - at first sight - it is in good shape," the Groninger Museum said, adding it was now at the

Amsterdam Van Gogh Museum and it would take weeks or months before it would be returned.

"Police have been closely involved in all phases (of the recovery of the painting). The museum cannot comment on the ongoing inquiry," it said.

The museum also said Arthur Brand, a prominent Dutch art detective, had played a "key role" in the whole process.

(Reporting by Benoit Van Overstraeten; Editing by Alexandra Hudson)